Cholankeril G, et al. medRxiv 2020.
BACKGROUND: High rates of concurrent gastrointestinal manifestations have been noted in patients with COVID- 19, however the association between these digestive manifestations and need for hospitalization has not been established.
METHODS: Following expedited approval from our Institutional Review Board, we analyzed retrospectively collected data from consecutive patients with confirmed COVID-19 based on a positive polymerase chain reaction testing at our institution from March 03, 2020 to April 7, 2020. Baseline demographic, clinical, laboratory and patient-reported symptom data were collected at presentation in the emergency room. Multivariable logistic regression analyses were performed to evaluate the association between hospitalization and presence of gastrointestinal symptoms.
RESULTS: During this study period, we identified 207 consecutive patients with confirmed COVID-19. 34.5% noted concurrent gastrointestinal symptoms; of which 90% of gastrointestinal symptoms were mild. In a multivariate regression model controlled for demographics and disease severity, an increased risk for hospitalization was noted in patients with any gastrointestinal symptom (adjusted OR 4.84 95% CI: 1.68-13.94]. Diarrhea was associated with a seven-fold higher likelihood for hospitalization (adjusted OR=7.58, 95% CI: 2.49-20.02, P <0.001) and nausea or vomiting had a four times higher odds (adjusted OR 4.39, 95% CI: 1.61-11.4, P = 0.005).
CONCLUSION: We demonstrate that a significant portion of COVID19 patients have concurrent mild gastrointestinal symptoms and that the presence of these digestive symptoms is associated with a need for hospitalization. With the current focus on streamlining triaging efforts, first responders and frontline providers should consider assessing for digestive symptoms in their initial clinical evaluation and decision-making.